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By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Evaluate the appropriate competition policy for a natural monopoly
  • Interpret a graph of regulatory choices
  • Contrast cost-plus and price cap regulation

Most true monopolies today in the U.S. are regulated, natural monopolies. A natural monopoly poses a difficult challenge for competition policy, because the structure of costs and demand seems to make competition unlikely or costly. A natural monopoly    arises when average costs are declining over the range of production that satisfies market demand. This typically happens when fixed costs are large relative to variable costs. As a result, one firm is able to supply the total quantity demanded in the market at lower cost than two or more firms—so splitting up the natural monopoly would raise the average cost of production and force customers to pay more.

Public utilities, the companies that have traditionally provided water and electrical service across much of the United States, are leading examples of natural monopoly. It would make little sense to argue that a local water company should be broken up into several competing companies, each with its own separate set of pipes and water supplies. Installing four or five identical sets of pipes under a city, one for each water company, so that each household could choose its own water provider, would be terribly costly. The same argument applies to the idea of having many competing companies for delivering electricity to homes, each with its own set of wires. Before the advent of wireless phones, the argument also applied to the idea of many different phone companies, each with its own set of phone wires running through the neighborhood.

The choices in regulating a natural monopoly

So what then is the appropriate competition policy for a natural monopoly? [link] illustrates the case of natural monopoly, with a market demand curve that cuts through the downward-sloping portion of the average cost curve . Points A, B, C, and F illustrate four of the main choices for regulation. [link] outlines the regulatory choices for dealing with a natural monopoly.

Regulatory choices in dealing with natural monopoly

The graph represents a natural monopoly. The graph shows four points that represent the main choices for regulation, a downward-sloping average cost curve, and a downward-sloping market demand curve.
A natural monopoly will maximize profits by producing at the quantity where marginal revenue (MR) equals marginal costs (MC) and by then looking to the market demand curve to see what price to charge for this quantity. This monopoly will produce at point A, with a quantity of 4 and a price of 9.3. If antitrust regulators split this company exactly in half, then each half would produce at point B, with average costs of 9.75 and output of 2. The regulators might require the firm to produce where marginal cost crosses the market demand curve at point C. However, if the firm is required to produce at a quantity of 8 and sell at a price of 3.5, the firm will suffer from losses. The most likely choice is point F, where the firm is required to produce a quantity of 6 and charge a price of 6.5.
(*Total Revenue is given by multiplying price and quantity. However, some of the price values in this table have been rounded for ease of presentation.)
Regulatory choices in dealing with natural monopoly
Quantity Price Total Revenue * Marginal Revenue Total Cost Marginal Cost Average Cost
1 14.7 14.7 - 11.0 - 11.00
2 12.4 24.7 10.0 19.5 8.5 9.75
3 10.6 31.7 7.0 25.5 6.0 8.50
4 9.3 37.2 5.5 31.0 5.5 7.75
5 8.0 40.0 2.8 35.0 4.0 7.00
6 6.5 39.0 –1.0 39.0 4.0 6.50
7 5.0 35.0 –4.0 42.0 3.0 6.00
8 3.5 28.0 –7.0 45.5 3.5 5.70
9 2.0 18.0 –10.0 49.5 4.0 5.5

Questions & Answers

what are the factors that affect international organization
Imeobong Reply
Organizational structure,communication,mission
Ogunsola
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Imeobong Reply
discuss how international organization affect business in Nigeria
Imeobong
An international organization is an organization with an international membership, scope, or presence.
Avishek
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Imeobong
what are the factors that affect demand and commodity
Beatrice Reply
if a firm stays on the same isoquant it means ? a. output missteps decrease b. output must stay. the same c. output must increase d. quantity of labour and capital employed must remain the same e. none
Niza Reply
A
Were
A
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B
SEMAN
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Bertilla
D
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ezhilarasan
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Bertilla
analyse this table showing how this affect the law of diminishing demand return
michael Reply
What are diminishing marginal returns as they relate to costs?
michael
what are diminishing demand
Bertilla
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michael
the law of diminishing state that as more and more variable factor is added to a fixed cost, it will increase first and later its begins to fall until its get to zero. that were ur mc equal to zero
Fasae
thanks dr
Bertilla
The law of diminishing demand states that, if the price of a product is raised, a smaller quantity will be demanded and if the price of a product is lowered, a greater quantity will be demanded.
Were
The law of diminishing returns, also referred to as the law of diminishing marginal returns, states that in a production process, as one input variable is increased, there will be a point at which the marginal per unit output will start to decrease, ceteris puribus
Were
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Lovemore Reply
It's also the usage of mathematical tools to express and analyse economic problems.
Rasaq
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Lovemore
Yes, though economic analysis majorly has to deal with demand and supply forces in fact the back bone of economics rest on demand and supply but there are other functions like consumption function, implicit ,explicit, monotonic( constant, increasing, decreasing), transcendential, homogeneous, polyn
Rasaq
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Aminata Reply
it help us how to use our limited resources to satisfy our unlimited wants
Pagnol
Economics assit in understanding the pre-requisite for Growth and developmen and how the workings of the economy operates.
Rasaq
Economic helps us to manager our limited resources, how to expand it, etc over unlimited want
Eagle
Economics is the social Science in which we study how scarce resources are allocated for the betterment of human being.
Ali Reply
what is equilibrium point
Happiness Reply
where price and quantity demanded meet
Pagnol
is the point where price an quantity demanded meet
Aminata
why do consumer demand curve tend to move downward slope
Aminata
Equilibrium point is the point at which quantity demand equals quantity supply.
Rasaq
What is monopoly
Ezekiel Reply
Is a strict example of an imperfect market where there is only one seller and many buyer for a particular product.
Rasaq
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BUKENYA Reply
economics us behavior. Of people, nations, markets etc. It has much to do with reactions. watch MSNBC. Bloomberg. everyday they talk about how the markets react to an piece of news, legislation, interest rates etc. Interesting volatile stuff
TOM
but, it also react with science
ezhilarasan
economic is a science with study's the behavior of people,market and price
Bertilla
it's a science which study the behavior of people ,market n price
Bertilla
What is opportunity cost?
Junior
opp. cost~a benefit, profit or value of something that must be given up to acquire or achieve something else
Kim
or something that you foregone
Kim
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Yirtutey Reply
Adam smith
shaikh
modern father is Adam smith
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Adam smith
Nazifi
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It's a curve that reverses direction
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how economic effect the Market
Abdikarem
what is the difference between statistic and statistics?
Shafiu
One of the Principle of Economics states "Market is the best place to organize economic activies". However, market may fail if it does not perform it's necessary expected functions like Exercising real forces of demand and supply, contact where transactions are made etc. Though government may int
Rasaq
Through the Business cycle or the trade cycle.
Rasaq
it can can be described as when the demand is insufficient
Amaan Reply
high Dublin divino through Higginbotham
Shubham Reply
How does exchange rate affect the demand and supply?
austine
You mean demand and supply of currency ?
Jahangir
Hello
Hann
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Jahangir
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Hann
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Victor
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Thabo
Nigeria
Junior
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niwagaba
Hello
Abraham
What is the difference between Demand and Quantity Demanded?
Weedh
Demand refers to how much a product is desired by buyer mean while quantity demanded refers to the amount of product a buyer is willing to buy at a certain price.
Junior
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Ajibade
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Junior
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Ogunsola
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demand is the various quantity of goods or services a consumer is Willing and able to buy at a particular price over s given period of time while quantity demanded is the amount of goods or services being paid for
Florence
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Awudu
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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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